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LETTERS for October 1 issue

By Staff | Oct 1, 2015

Corporations blocking action on climate change

The Federal RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act was originally passed to be used against organized crime organizations. A RICO investigation beginning in 1999 played an important role in stopping the tobacco industry from continuing to deceive the American people about the dangers of smoking.

This month, a group of 20 scientists has written to the Obama administration, arguing that organized climate deniers meet the criteria for prosecution under the act. In the letter, they state that an overwhelming majority of climate scientists are convinced about the serious adverse effects of human-induced climate change on human health, agriculture and biodiversity, and they are very concerned with the current insufficient response by America and the rest of the world.

They go on to discuss the risks posed by climate change, including increasing extreme weather events, rising sea levels and increasing ocean acidity. Potential strategies for addressing them are discussed in the “Third National Climate Assessment, Climate Change Impacts in the United States.”

They cite peer-reviewed academic research papers and books that call out a number of corporations and organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) also suggests a RICO investigation of those of corporations and organizations.

It is vitally important that these corporations and organizations be stopped, so that the world can get on with the critically important business of finding effective ways to restabilize the Earth’s climate before even more lasting damage is done.

MIKE SOWERS, Kaanapali


Thievery a serious problem in Lahaina

When I went to Peru in 2003, the United Nations rated that country number one in the world for thieves. I never got ripped off there. I also went to the “murder capital of the world,” Tangier in Morocco, and did not get robbed. However, in the last three years, I have been robbed over 20 times in Lahaina, and nearly all of the dozens of people I know here say they were ripped off in this scary town! Watch your stuff!

I have had bikes ripped off in Lahaina four times with cut cables; one was in a friend’s back yard, and the rest were at a rack near a Lahaina bus stop. Because the buses only have two bike racks – unlike in California, where many routes have 3-6 racks and take another two inside – commuters often must leave their bikes locked in the racks. They return to find a locked bike with a frame missing, a wheel missing, or the seat or pedals missing (depending on where the lock was placed).

One time, Lahaina was so hot and sweaty that I tied my jacket to the handlebars for the freezing, 60-degree (air conditioned) bus ride. When I returned from the restroom, the jacket was gone. I have had two pairs of good pants stolen in a shopping center restroom while using the toilet and draping them over the side of the stall. I have also had a couple of hats, sunglasses and a backpack stolen there.

Last November, a famous Maui surfer snuck into the yard where I keep my surfboards and ripped off the most valuable surfboard I own, worth over $1,000 at a retro auction, and took it into big surf at Honolua Bay, where it was destroyed. The police refused to easily arrest him at the Maui County jail, where he was being held on other charges. This guy is well-known to the police and locals as a repeat criminal, yet like most criminals we read about in The Maui News, the judges give them a small fine and a short sentence, then let them go free to commit more crimes. Selling drugs easily pays the court fines and bail. The Maui County jail has been too small for over a decade, yet the apathetic mayor and County Council refuse to budget money for a new prison to keep repeat criminals off the streets!

I have had five other surfboards ripped off in Lahaina, so I do not buy or ride nice-looking surfboards anymore. I own the ugliest, most patched, delaminated, sun-browned surfboards nobody would even want to steal. I have also had leashes, a bag of surf booties and expensive sunscreen tubes stolen in Lahaina.

In the library, I had a new CD player, my best clothing and the only copy of the best publication I have ever published stolen. The bag was next to my leg at the computer; when I clicked “off” and reached down to grab it, it was gone! I also had two hats and two sunglasses ripped off at those computers after I went to the restroom or checked books and magazines.

Never leave anything out of your hands and eyes in there, at a bus stop, at a bench or in a coffee shop.

One guy at Puamana recently was lying in the sun next to his guitar, opened his eyes and it was gone! I have had a wallet and bike stolen recently. The police know it is easy to identify a stolen bike and arrest the rider, because the crooks spray-paint them black and do not use the glossy enamel and logo of a real bike. There is no reason to spray-paint a bike unless you are hiding something. The cops need to ask the rider for his license and registration for that bike, and if he cannot show it, arrest him. If he was dumb enough to buy a spray-painted bike, he is asking for trouble as an accomplice to an obvious theft. Police must also be aware of where a lot of stolen bikes end up and are offered for sale.



Offended by the truth

Actor Adrien Grenier of the TV series “Entourage” has been caught up in quite a storm over a tweet he sent out on the recent anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It was an animation of the World Trade Center and below it read, “R.I.P. the 2,996 Americans who died in 9/11. R.I.P. the 1,455,590 Iraqis who died during the U.S. invasion for something they didn’t do.”

Even though Grenier has since deleted the tweet, people have continued to hound him for being “classless” and “disrespectful.” Many critics vow to “avoid watching anything he is in,” which they have every right not to.

Due to the corporate media and Hollywood’s important role in the military industrial complex, it is not often we hear about someone in show business ruffling the American Empire’s feathers. As Grenier’s comments showcase, when it comes to talking about American military escapades, it’s better to toe the line than speak the truth.

A similar controversy arose when actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz wrote a letter to the Spanish press a few years ago condemning Israel’s bombing of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Bardem and Cruz received much pushback from both inside and outside Hollywood.

People sometimes claim that celebrities make these kinds of comments just to get attention. The comments certainly do receive attention, but to dismiss them out-of-hand simply based on the source is to remain willfully blind.

Grenier’s simple remark about the Iraqi death toll resulting from the American invasion and occupation should be front and center in any discussion of American foreign policy. All Americans should be crystal clear on the havoc their government has wrought in that country. Grenier merely expressed sympathy for this tragedy, and for that he is condemned.

It’s high time people stop being offended by comments that expose the American war machine. The Right’s intolerance of anything remotely critical of the American military is the most insidious form of political correctness. Yes, the 9/11 attacks were terrible – they killed many innocent people. But the story does not have to stop there. Invading and bombing Iraq and Afghanistan was nothing more than terrorism in response to terrorism. Those wars killed so many more innocent people than died on 9/11.

If Grenier’s critics have a problem with the acknowledgment of this fact, they should explain why.

The media is one of the main culprits in the soft cover-up of the Middle East casualty count. By choosing never to speak of it, the American media fosters a narrative that their government’s conduct in the Middle East is relatively harmless. Grenier pulled the lid right off this foul cover-up. He didn’t disrespect the victims of 9/11; he acknowledged his sympathy for them. Unfortunately for him, he did something else, too. Something Americans are not supposed to do. He acknowledged the staggering number of non-Americans who’ve also died in the senseless War on Terror. Doing so is sadly taboo in our hyper-militaristic society.